Holding Mastermind Group Members Accountable

When your members say to you, “I want you to hold my feet to the fire,” what are they really asking?

  • I want to commit to getting something specific done, and delivering on that commitment in a consistent manner.
  • I need help setting goals and making action plans that are truly attainable, and stop over-committing.
  • I need some sort of structure in my life so that I can get things done and I want this mastermind group to provide that structure.

Many ex-members of mastermind groups tell me horror stories about their former mastermind groups. Their biggest complaint? No one got results from being in the group because there was no check-in or accountability structure in place (or the group Facilitator didn’t enforce it).

What they’re really asking for is help being responsible for their results.

First Crucial Premise

Before we begin the discussion about holding someone accountable in a mastermind group, let’s face some facts: mastermind groups are not work teams, and you’re not their boss or their leader.

You’re there to facilitate their success, not create it for them.

You don’t have many tools in your tool bag for truly holding members accountable. The worst punishment is that you kick someone out of the mastermind group for not reaching their short-term and long-term goals.

Accountability skills you see in the workplace have very little to do with a mastermind group setting, so forget what you know about employee-employer accountability and let’s focus on how a mastermind group Facilitator holds members accountable.

Let Them Choose Their Own Goals and Timelines

To create success, ask members to come with goals for which they’ll be held accountable.

Caution: do not try to impose suggested tasks and projects on them, or shame them into shooting for higher goals than they feel they can achieve. Yes, there’s a subset of mastermind group members who will set the task/project bar so low that they’re not really making any headway towards their goals. You can encourage them to set higher standards, but you have to do it out of curiosity (“I wonder if that’s a strong enough task for you, Susan, given that you want to achieve your goal in 90 days?”) instead of out of shame (“Susan, it sounds like you’re being lazy.”)

Let them set their own projects and tasks, based on their resources, including available time in their calendar, people to delegate tasks to, the skills/knowledge necessary to get the job done, and the money to do so.

Help them to be crystal clear about what the goal truly is, and the exact tasks that need to be done to reach that goal. Clarity on goals and tasks will help them know the timeline for delivering on those tasks. Ask them to be specific. What exactly will get done, by what date, using which resources? And how will you report it back to the group?

Reporting and Checking In

  • Don’t wait until the next meeting to check in with each member. Set up time between meetings to shoot them a quick email, asking them the status of their action plans. This might help them course-correct if they’re already off target.
  • During meetings, ask each member to report on what their goal was and if they reached it. It’s important that accountability be public.
  • Consider posting, in a public place that all members can access, the list of each member’s goals and whether they achieved them each month.

When to Do Accountability Check-Ins

  • During meetings – ask each member for a quick summary of what they promised to complete and the actual results they achieved.
  • Between meetings – consider having a message forum where people can report on their progress.
  • Accountability days – a full day when members agree to work solely on their project without distractions, with hourly check-ins, either in a live setting or virtually.

Applauding Success

Acknowledging member successes at achieving their goals is vital. If you’re going to publically ask them to set goals, then publically applaud them for reaching those goals. Recognizing the attainment of goals reinforces positive behavior.

  • Verbally acknowledge that you’re proud of the member.
  • Give specific praise for specific actions.
  • Consider some small reward for each person who achieves goals: points towards prizes, gift certificates to restaurants, etc.
  • Use the leverage of the group dynamics for better peer accountability.

Dealing with Failure to Reach Goals

We often fear the conflict of truly holding someone accountable when they have not met their promises. But a discussion about what they didn’t do isn’t to criticize or reprimand, but rather it’s an exploration into the causes and barriers (so that they can be fixed and perform better next time).

Get the member to take ownership and responsibility for their failure to get the task/project done:

  • Give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if this “miss” is a one-time event.
  • If you noticed they haven’t reached their promised goal, do a notice-and-explore statement, like, “I notice you didn’t complete the article you promised yourself that you would write. Tell me about it.” (Note that we say “promised yourself” and not “promised me” or “promised the group.” Accountability in a mastermind group starts and ends with the member.)
  • Avoid moving into the “parent” or “boss” role. It’s not your place to be disappointed in them (let them be disappointed in themselves) or to rebuke or criticize them. It is your role to ask questions and help turn them around.
  • Ask the member what went wrong and listen with an open mind.
  • Ask the group to point out inconsistencies and trouble spots that the member might not see.
  • Ask them what they will do differently to change the outcome.

Some things not to do:

  • Act out on angry or frustrated feelings. Look at your own emotions and motivations before speaking with the member.
  • Embarrass, shame or mock them (or allow other members to do this).
  • Let it go – don’t ignore a clear situation that’s right in front of you.
  • Allow them to repeatedly reset the goal posts – why should they act responsibly when you give consistently give them a “pass” on achieving their goals? Don’t enable the behavior.

Be the Model – Hold Yourself Accountable

Your members will model your behavior, so you need to be in integrity with your own action plans. If you promise to get something to them by a certain date, and fail to do it, what message are you sending them? You have to show ruthless accountability for your own promises and your own success so that your members know they can trust you.

Accountability is Responsibility

Our members are accountable when they achieve goals, and when they take responsibility for not achieving goals.

As Facilitators, our responsibility is to create a consistent structure in which the members can set and achieve goals. Some of your members may be go-getters and not need the accountability, but nearly everyone likes to be acknowledged for having fulfilled their promises.


Using Vision Boards with Your Mastermind Group

Last year my husband and I created a new vision board, about the house we wanted to buy. I included a drawing of a house that I had cut out of a magazine SIX year earlier (top photo). When we started to look for houses last year, look at the amazing house we saw (bottom photo) almost identical to the house we put on the vision board! THAT is the power of Vision Boards!

Using Vision Boards with Your Group

One of the best exercises you can do with your mastermind groups is to have them create Vision Boards. Here are some excellent examples of vision boards in this YouTube video that may inspire you. Even Ellen created a vision board about her goal to get on the cover of Oprah Magazine. 🙂

What’s a Vision Board?

A Vision Board is a collage of things you want in life, experiences you desire, and people, situations, and feelings you want to manifest. Sometimes it’s called a treasure map.

Making a Vision Board has several purposes:

  • Helps keep your goals constantly in sight and in your mind
  • Surrounds you with the energy of what you desire most
  • Helps you gain clarity about what are your most important goals and dreams
  • Keeps your emotional energy high and your focus strong

The way to achieve your goals in life is to have a clear picture of what you actually want. Brian Tracey says, “An average person with average talent, ambition and education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals.”

The Law of Attraction says that the more you focus on the things you want, the more time you spend paying attention to your purpose, the more you draw your desired items and experiences into your life. So surrounding yourself with visual representations of what you desire helps to elevate your energy in the direction of those things.

What Your Group Will Need

  1. Poster Board – I use 20″ x 30″ poster board, because you can find inexpensive frames of that size in any discount department store.
  2. Old magazines – You’ve been wanting to clean up your old magazine pile, so here’s a good excuse! Also, check with friends to see if they have any old magazines, or ask your local library if they ever trash magazines. Choose magazines that have always appealed to you in the past, as they’re a treasure trove of images and words for your Vision Board.
  3. Glue – Don’t use glue sticks as the glue isn’t stable (unless you’re going to frame the Vision Board between a plastic cover and a cardboard backer, which should keep all the items secure). Personally, I use paper cement. There are also double-sided sticky tabs you can buy at most photography stores. These tabs are commonly used for putting together wedding albums, but work great for a Vision Board, too.

Note: If your mastermind group is a virtual one, have them do this exercise on their own, then take digital photos of their completed Vision Board to show to the group.

Getting Started

While it helps to review your goals and dreams in advance, I find that just diving into the magazines and cutting out any words or images that appeals to me to be the best way to collect ideas.

Don’t let your mastermind group members judge or critique what they’re cutting out yet. Tel them, “Just cut out any image or word that attracts you, as these are subconscious messages from your brain, heart and soul.”

Sort them into piles of themes:

  • Feelings you’d like to experience
  • People you’d like to attract into your life
  • Travel and places to see
  • Money goals
  • Lifestyle goals, like health, relationships, etc.
  • Professional goals, like enhancing your business, becoming famous, or writing a book

Prioritize what must go on your Vision Board

Soften your focus and allow your thoughts, feelings and intuition to guide you to the most important images and words.

Layout without gluing

This helps you to group the items in a pleasing manner and eliminate those items that don’t work for you. Don’t forget that you can write your own words and draw your own sketches for the Vision Board, too.

Glue and frame

Tou can find inexpensive frames of that size in any discount department store. A frame will keep the board flat and dust-free, and will allow you to hang it on your wall.

Put it where you’ll see it

Take a moment each day to focus on a portion of the Vision Board that calls to you.

Do you remember in The Secret, John Assaraf talks about creating a vision board that included his perfect home? Six years, and several moves later, he was unpacking an old box and came across his old vision boards — and discovered an amazing thing: the photo of his dream house on one old vision board is the EXACT house he lives in today! (Not a house “like” the house he wanted…the exact same house he was currently living in.) John tells the story in this moving video:


When you create your Vision Board, take photos of it, and post it on your blog or Facebook, so we can all share in the manifesting of your dreams! (Post your Vision Board photos Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/MastermindGroup

I can’t wait to see what you create!


How to Choose the Best Mastermind Group Members

Creating your own mastermind group — whether for your own participation or as a paid service that you offer to your clients/members — will help you to grow your business or organization.

There are many factors that affect the success of your group, but one of the most important is the selection of the right participants: Who do you want to be part of your dream team?

I’ve been running mastermind groups since 1995, and I’ve been teaching how to create and run groups for over 10 years.  These are the crucial six factors I’ve discovered for selecting the right people to be part of your mastermind group:

  1. Commitment: No mastermind group will function for long if people are not willing to make a sustained commitment to the group. Commitment comes in two forms: commitment to showing up for every meeting without excuse, and commitment to participating in the mastermind group process.
  2. Balanced Two-Way Sharing: The true benefit of a mastermind group is the brainstorming that happens when one member presents a problem, challenge or decision, and the entire group gets involved with idea and solution generation. The best members are those who are willing to both ask for help and give help. Sometimes you will find members who either want to hog the limelight, or who never ask for help at all. Finding members who will participate in a full and balanced way goes a long way towards making a successful group.
  3. Follows the Guidelines: Every group should have written guidelines about what’s acceptable behavior. Group members vote on these guidelines so that everyone is in agreement, and every group member must abide by the guidelines. Remember, you are trying to create a spirit of harmony and trust with your group; guidelines help to set the boundaries and create a safe place for everyone.
  4. No Competitors: It is impossible for someone to be open about their problems, or about their next great idea, if one of their competitors is listening in. When choosing your mastermind group members, be diligent about the connections between people and separate competitors into different mastermind groups as necessary.
  5. Similar Success and Experience Levels: One way to guarantee that your mastermind group will fail is having people at different experience levels in it. What ends up happening is the more experienced members mentor the less experienced members, but get no real value for themselves. Being in a mastermind group with people who are more successful is great for the junior member, but eventually the more experienced members quit the group in frustration. Instead, try to find people who have similar levels of experience and success.
  6. Varied Skills: It’s not always possible to screen members about the skills and knowledge they bring to the group. In an ideal group, however, members come from different backgrounds and have specialties they share with others. For instance, in one “internet marketing mastermind group” I belong to, one person is a social media expert, one is a branding expert, one is a copywriting expert, etc. In this way you can tap into the wisdom of the people who study a topic and use it daily, and get the added benefit of hearing from everyone about how they personally approach a problem or topic. The experts bring granular detail and the rest of the group brings experience, ideas and intelligent questions.

I would not be as successful today if it weren’t for the mastermind groups that I have been a part of. They’re extraordinarily powerful, and the members find incredible support and encouragement, as well as creative and exciting ideas and solutions.

By taking your time when putting together your membership, you’ll have a successful and productive group for years to come.

Inviting Guest Speakers to Your Mastermind Group

One of the best ways to add variety and richness to your mastermind group meetings is by inviting guest speakers to give a talk on a particular topic.

First, survey your group and ask members to suggest speakers who can be approached by the Facilitator. Second, ask your members for specific topic areas they’d like to learn more about from an expert. Third, have your members vote on how much meeting time the speaker should use. For example if your meetings are two hours each, should the speaker use the full two hours, or perhaps only one hour?

As the Facilitator, it’s your job to contact the speaker, explain the nature of your group, and discuss the possibility of that speaker joining you for a meeting. Some speakers charge a fee, so ask upfront about any fees involved. Some speakers will speak for free and these speakers typically want to sell their product or service to the group.

Set limits on how much time the speaker can spend talking about their products and services; make it clear that it’s the content of their speech that the members are primarily interested in. If they enjoy the content, they will be much more open to purchasing from that speaker. If they feel the speech is nothing more than a sales presentation, the speaker is wasting the group’s time.

If the speaker charges a fee, find out what it is. If you don’t already have a fund in place to pay for speakers, go to the members and ask if they’re willing to contribute to pay the speaker’s fee.

Finally, set a date and time for the speaker to present. Remind the speaker how many minutes they have and stick to that schedule, especially if you are planning to run a regular mastermind meeting after the speaker departs.

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